Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International International, commonly called Kidpower, is an educational charitable organization established in 1989 to bring self-protection and confidence to people of all ages, abilities, and walks of life. Our vision is to work together to create cultures of caring, respect, and safety for all. Kidpower services have reached over a million children, teenagers, and adults in the United States and many other countries. Law enforcement experts, educators, and mental health specialists recommend our programs for being positive, practical, and effective.
Kidpower's basic principle is that each person's safety and self-esteem are more important than ANYONE's embarrassment, inconvenience, or offense. The skills we teach prepare our students to protect themselves from most bullying, molestation, assault and abduction. Knowing these skills increases most students' belief in themselves as being powerful, competent and valuable people. Our web site at www.kidpower.org offers many resources including local services, a library of free articles, educational materials for sale, and a free monthly enewsletter about teaching personal safety, boundary-setting, advocacy, and confidence. Our newest publication, The KIDPOWER Book for Caring Adults, is recommended by violence prediction expert and best-selling author Gavin deBecker, Bay Area Parent - Silicon Valley, and supernanny.us.com.
Take charge of the safety of every place where your children will be: at
home, in child care, with friends, with family members, and at school.
Be sure that: 1) The rules are clear; 2) There is proper adult
supervision; and 3) You have a backup plan in case things go wrong.
Think about safety with fire, water, cars, and natural disasters as well
as with people. Help children create experiences and develop attitudes
to build their belief in themselves as being strong, capable and
important. Children learn from what they see adults do, so be sure that
YOU are modeling positive beliefs.
Children can learn to take charge of their own safety by acting with
awareness, calm and confidence. Prepare children to notice what is
happening around them and to move away from danger. Teach children to
set firm respectful boundaries, including with people they care about,
and to speak up when they have a problem. Teach them to walk away from a
confrontation instead of escalating it, even if someone is rude.
Encourage children to tell you and other trusted adults about their
problems so that they can get help and so that they do not have to feel
Just talking about problems can increase anxiety for children,
especially if their adults sound worried. Children learn best if their
adults explain safety issues very calmly with a focus on how to be safe
rather than on potential dangers -- and then help them to be successful
in practicing skills. The younger a child is, the more literal that
child is likely to be. Instead of telling scary stories, introduce and
practice very clear rules. The older a child is, the more that child
will want to feel like part of the team in figuring out what how to
handle different problems. Ask children leading questions to help build
their understanding, such as, "What's your safety plan if you need help
The safety plan for younger children is to MOVE AWAY and CHECK FIRST
with their adults when they notice anything they are not SURE is safe --
a pot boiling over, a spider, a dog, a car, a clown, a river, a police
officer, or a stranger. Teach children that a stranger is someone who
they do not know very well. Since most people are good, this means that
most strangers are good. The safety plan for children on their own is to
MOVE AWAY and CHECK FIRST before they let strangers get close to them,
talk to them, or give them anything, even their own things. The safety
rule for older children, teenagers and anyone else who does not have an
adult to check first with is to THINK FIRST, be ready to MOVE OUT OF
REACH, and GO TO SAFETY, which is where there are people who can help
Children are more likely to be harmed by people they know than by
strangers. Safety for young people lies in their adults knowing WHERE
they are going, WHAT they are doing, and WHO they are with. Teach
children to CHECK FIRST before they change their plan, even with people
they know. If children are going to be out on their own, teach them how
to call you or another caregiver before changing their plan.
Adapt the checking/thinking first rule to every place a young person
might go. Because homes are very different, make a safety plan that
works for your situation about children checking before they open the
door. Teach young people not to give personal information on the
telephone, to people they meet casually, or over the internet. Teach
them not to admit to being home alone. Make safety plans for how you
want children to get help when they are: in a store, home alone, at a
friend's house, lost, at camp, in your neighborhood, or at school.
Discuss problems that might come up, such as "What is our safety plan if
we get separated?" Or, "What if an adult asks you for help when you
Make sure children know their home telephone number, how to use
different types of telephones, and how to call 911. Explain that the
safety plan is different in emergencies where children cannot check
first, such as being trapped in a fire, lost in the woods, or injured.
In that case, the safety plan is to get help, even from a stranger.
The purpose of boundaries is to protect our personal space, bodies,
time, feelings, and well being and to contain our impulses to intrude on
the boundaries of others. The Kidpower principles for setting
boundaries with people we know are: 1) We each belong to ourselves; 2)
Some things are not a choice; 3) Problems should not be secrets; and 4)
Keep telling until you get help. The more that adults can teach young
people to understand and protect their own boundaries and to see and
respect the boundaries of others, the safer they are going to be.
Help children to identify and take the power out of their triggers
(thoughts, words or behavior that cause them to explode with feelings)
so that they will not be ruled by what others say and do. Coach children
to look at you, tell you in a clear calm voice with polite firm
language and to use their bodies to get you to stop different
intrusions. You can practice by: standing too close; starting to tickle;
pressuring child to go somewhere unsafe; creating emotional pressure
("Don't you like me?"); offering a bribe; or presenting a low-key threat
(You HAVE to do what I say!").
Be sure that children know that you want them to tell you if they have a
problem even if they promised someone not to. Explain that you might be
busy and get annoyed when you are interrupted. Teach children that they
sometimes have to wait if they want something, but to interrupt and
keep asking if they need help. Teach children to persist in getting your
attention by saying, "I have a safety problem!" Ask children
occasionally, "Is there anything you have been wondering or worrying
about that you have not told me?"
Reasons older children give for not talking to adults are: "I'm afraid
they'll get upset, give me a lecture, or start yelling at somebody." Or,
"They never do anything." Or, "The people I told on will take revenge
on me." Or, "I broke too many rules to tell." Or, "I want to be grownup
enough to handle things myself." Or, "I want to be loyal to my
If you want young people to come to you with their problems, you have to
be a good listener. NO MATTER WHAT a child or teenager tells you, your
first job is to take a breath and do your best to stay calm. Put away
any upset feelings even if this feels almost impossible. Start with a
matter of fact statement like, "I am so glad you are telling me."
Remember that you DO want young people to feel safe with you, even if
they have done something wrong. Remember that mistakes are part of
learning and that testing the rules is part of growing up. After you
have listened and fully understood what happened, then you can take
whatever action seems appropriate.
Any strong resistance will stop most assaults. Often, young people won't
protect themselves because they don't want to get in trouble. Tell
children that fighting is a last resort, and that they have your
permission ONLY if someone is about to harm them and they cannot leave
or get help. Explore the option of self-defense training through
programs such as Kidpower.
Our website article on How to Pick a Good
Self-Defense Program provides some useful guidelines.